In Chapter 12 of Austen’s Emma, Mr. Woodhouse questions his daughter Isabella’s decision to spend the autumn with her children at South End and adds sea air and swimming to his list of dangerous activities.
“It was an awkward business, my dear, your spending the autumn at South End instead of coming here. I never had much opinion of the sea air.”
“Mr. Wingfield most strenuously recommended it, sir–or we should not have gone. He recommended it for all the children, but particularly for the weakness in little Bella’s throat,–both sea air and bathing.”
“Ah! my dear, but Perry had many doubts about the sea doing her any good; and as to myself, I have been long perfectly convinced, though perhaps I never told you so before, that the sea is very rarely of use to any body. I am sure it almost killed me once.”
Poor Emma tries to move the conversation along
“Come, come,” cried Emma, feeling this to be an unsafe subject, “I must beg you not to talk of the sea. It makes me envious and miserable;–I who have never seen it!